For the past six years, Penn State Extension has been using pheromone traps to monitor populations of black cutworm moths that are arriving in the Commonwealth, and we will do so again in 2018. This population-level information is useful for predicting when the cutting behavior of black cutworm caterpillars will likely occur in corn fields and when scouting for this damage should occur. Research has clearly shown that scouting, finding significant populations, and applying rescue treatments is the most efficient and economical way to control black cutworm populations. Nevertheless, many farmers apply insecticides early in spring, often mixed with their herbicides, to target black cutworm, but these blind efforts are usually wasted because they are not timed with arrival of moths or caterpillar activity.
When moth populations arrive in significant numbers, we will detected them with our Black Cutworm Monitoring Network. This network will be staffed by Penn State Extension educators and a few high school agricultural teachers and their students, which will be monitoring about 30 pheromone traps across the state. We will let folks know via this newsletter the status of arriving populations, when caterpillars should be active, and the corresponding time to scout fields for damage.
For more information, see our black cutworm factsheet.